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Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period$
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Sarah Houghton-Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719472.001.0001

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Industry, Idleness, and Class

Industry, Idleness, and Class

(p.220) 8 Industry, Idleness, and Class
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period

Sarah Houghton-Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter engages with the body of recent literary criticism which has examined ideas of industry and idleness with relation to the labouring classes, asking how the figure of the gypsy allows or refuses the articulation of related concerns, because gypsies in the period are understood to connote not labouring-class activity, but rather the choice of an idle life. These issues are explored primarily through paintings by Gainsborough and Morland. The chapter argues that the gypsies offer an escape from the impasse between pastoral and georgic that John Barrell identifies in his seminal critical work. Barrell’s arguments help us to understand just how potent this possibility might have been in a period which was trying to define itself and its class relations. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the relation of the gypsy in this context of industry and idleness to ideas about Englishness and nationhood.

Keywords:   industry, labour, idleness, class relations, Gainsborough, Morland, pastoral, georgic, Englishness, nationhood

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